tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 1, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
tonight, here in cairo, president mubarak goes on the air to say he is willing to leave, but that's not until elections in september. and for a massive angry crowd, for most of them, that's not good enough. meanwhile, back in the u.s., another monster storm churning from west to east. another potential history maker. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening, once again, from cairo, we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, the big
big story across much of the u.s. is a big storm. here it's a continuing storm of big protests. and another day in the life of this uprising. the huge gathering in liberation square that's been promised for days, billed as the million plus person march here, and the second big event of the day happened tonight, egypt time when president hosni mubarak took to the airwaves. this whole protest has been about getting him out of office. tonight he said he intends to do that, and not stand for re-election. the problem is, he doesn't plan to do that until september, and for some of these angry demonstrators, that is not good enough. for some of them, tomorrow would not be soon enough. we have the city covered, this region, this story. our team of correspondents is in place, led by richard engel who was out in it with us all day. richard, good evening. >> good evening, brian.
president mubarak seemed to offer concessions, to many people it looked like he was taking a hardline. many egyptians worried there will be more violence ahead. in a highly anticipated television address, mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in september. and would set unspecified term limits. i will work for the remaining months in my term, to guarantee the peaceful transition of power, he said. mubarak also hinted a crackdown could be coming. he stressed his ties to the army, and said egypt must choose between chaos and stability. mubarak said he would die in egypt. the protesters expected much more. the reaction here has been immediate and angry. people saying mubarak must leave now, and there can be no other concessions. many of the demonstrators say the 82-year-old mubarak's concession that he will not stand for another six-year term is no concession at all.
>> we want him to leave our country. >> reporter: the demonstrators feel they have momentum, and mubarak on the ropes, after gathering hundreds of thousands of people today in cairo's main tahrir square. earlier in the day the mood was like a carnival. families were out together for the first time. but the protesters are giving mubarak a deadline. the protests today have mostly been peaceful. but demonstrators warn if mubarak doesn't stepdown by friday, they will resume clashes. but who's organizing this revolution? and how do you set up a million strong protests when the government has cut the internet? i was surprised when i visited the protesters' tiny control room, an office with just ten volunteers. this operation is run by a soft-spoken, 36-year-old english teacher named amal sharaf.
>> we want him to leave the country and move the country in a new direction. >> reporter: a single mother, sharaf has been awake for 24 hours and makes hundreds of cell phone calls a day. just think about it, ten people. a mother of a 10-year-old girl, another bunch of college educated young people. you're organizing a revolt here in cairo. a revolution. do you think it will work? >> i think it will work. we didn't think it would go this far. >> reporter: the protests are continuing and unlike earlier in the day, now are furious. already tonight there have been some clashes between mubarak supporters and protesters. brian take a look at what happened tonight after mubarak's speech in alexandria. many feel this could become violent before friday. >> this was the first clash
we've seen since the initial clashes here friday night where we had the fires, the tear gas. this got very rough in alexandria tonight as we see, in what was live coverage again in the moments following mubarak's speech. richard engel heading up our team of coverage here on the ground tonight. richard, thanks, as always. make no mistake, most protesters in the crowd would like president obama to come out, boldly support their cause and ask mubarak to leave office right now. diplomacy doesn't work that way. a lot of american allies are watching the americans very closely to see how they treat their friends. we did, however, late tonight hear from the president. white house correspondent, savannah guthrie, is there with what he said. savannah, good evening. >> reporter: we have now heard from the president, and he did not call for hosni mubarak to step down right away. he watched the speech in the
situation room today, and then spoke to the president of egypt for about 30 minutes afterwards. the president said tonight that mubarak realizes the status quo is not sustainable, and a change must take place. >> it is not the role of any other country to determine egypt's leaders. only the egyptian people can do that. what is clear, and what i indicated tonight to president mubarak, is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful. it must be peaceful. and it must begin now. >> reporter: the president saying the transition must start now, but stopped short of saying mubarak must leave office right now. the administration actually dispatched a veteran diplomat, frank wisner, to carry a message straight to mubarak, saying do not run for re-election in september. the message was delivered, mubarak obviously said that tonight, but it was not good
enough for protesters in cairo. brian? >> savannah guthrie at the white house, a still developing angle of this story tonight. savannah, thanks. this evening i spoke by telephone to mohammad elbaradei who is back here in cairo. he spent years living in other countries, a part of that in the united states. he's been a negotiator, a diplomat, and he is back here offering himself as, perhaps, a consensus candidate for the very vocal majority in a post-mubarak era. he had some tough words tonight over the phone. he told me the mubarak speech extended the agony. he called it an act of deception on the part of mubarak. finally, he called mubarak a dead man walking, and those are weighty words in this region. earlier today i spoke with dr. elbaradei at his house and asked him about this candidacy of his.
how do you view your own, whether we call it candidacy -- if it isn't you emerging as a leader of a new egypt, are there individuals you'd be perfectly happy to see? >> i'd be perfectly happy, brian, that i be quote/unquote agent for change. seeing my egypt going from where we are, you know, to where we should be. i would be perfectly happy if anybody else would take it from there. i'm not necessarily interested in running the country or -- i'm interested in seeing this country, at this stage of my life, you know, catching up, being part of the big human family i'm used to. i've lived in the u.s. for 15 years, i've lived in europe for 25 years. i lived in democracies. this is to me -- without democracy, there is no life. the issue of who's going to run doesn't really matter. the important thing is, how he's going to be chosen.
>> look at your country right now. there's no internet service. commerce has ground to a halt. stores are closed, nothing's happening. the price of oil is spiking, tourism -- people are trying to get out, not come in. >> sure. >> how long can this go on? >> it can't last very long. the country is going down the drain. and i think until -- unless mubarak understands that he needs to go by the end of the week, my fear is that the whole situation will go bloody. and again, i continue to appeal to him and people around him, he needs to go. he's the major part of the solution. once he's out, everything can sort of go back to normal. >> just one of the men that may emerge in the vacuum, dr. mohammed elbaradei. one more note from this region tonight. it's been said that this movement may not stop here,
other governments have something to fear. saudi arabia's been mentioned, jordan's been mentioned. today jordan's king dissolved his government, is replacing the prime minister. it's seen by most people in this region as a kind of kanny preemptive move. it's been said if the king of egypt had done what the king of jordan did today a few weeks back, he might have avoided all these troubles. now we switch regions, specifically back home to the united states. a storm so big it almost runs from coast to coast. east to west at one point this thing measured something like 2,100 miles. a massive storm delivering a lot of snow, enough to have blizzard warnings posted in nine separate states. and chicago is the focus of a lot of attention. they could get two plus feet of snow as this ugly and awful winter of 2010-2011 continues.
kevin tibbles heads up our coverage. al roker is also there, but we begin tonight with kevin. good evening. >> reporter: brian, a huge swath of this nation, including right here in beautiful chicago, illinois bracing for as much as 24 inches, two feet of snow as this massive storm paralyzes much of the country. as the big white monster marches in, the nation mobilizes. an estimated 100 million people stand in the path of this massive storm. >> i can barely talk right now, my face is so freakin' cold. >> reporter: fema is already positioned in 11 states. states of emergency declared in at least four. and the national guard has been deployed in others. >> nothing's leaving, so you don't know whether to sit here and wait or rent a car and try to drive. >> reporter: more than 6,000 flights already cancelled. power outages reported from texas to michigan and beyond. chicago, where they know winter is bracing for two feet of snow. >> we are prepared to use our
whole fleet of 274 trucks and 120 garbage trucks with quick hitch plows. >> reporter: heavy snow and ice hammering major cities hard. >> i'm charles hadlock outside dallas, where snow, sleet and ice brought airport closures and shut down mass transit. just as 100,000 people are starting to descend on this city for this weekend's super bowl. >> here in oklahoma city, we've had winds gusting close to 40 to 50 miles an hour. that's causing whiteout conditions here. visibility at times getting below an eighth of a mile. that creates dangerous travel conditions. in fact, the state department of transportation advising people to stay off the roads and stay home. >> i'm john yang in st. louis, where the big concern is the that heavy snow on top of the ice that's already here, plus heavy winds are going to bring down tree limbs and power lines, causing massive power outages. the local utility has 500
linemen standing by. >> here, near indianapolis an inch of ice has glazed roads and freeways. national guard troops are helping drivers and residents. and forecasters are calling the storm devastating. saying it could be the worst in state history. >> reporter: brian, you heard it there, authorities are saying stay home, stay off the roads, and hunker down. this could be a very long and dangerous night. brian, my face is pretty cold too. >> yeah, but remember, you started life in canada. so kevin tibbles, you don't scare easily, neither does anyone in chicago. this storm may get their attention. also with kevin in chicago, our own al roker. al, it looks like the fun is just getting started there. >> reporter: absolutely, brian. they may dub this one the monster of the midway, brian, i tell you. we have 21 degrees, wind gusts of 39 to 40 miles an hour it it's like a tropical storm with snow, it's a big, big storm and it's just getting bigger, take a look on the radar now, we can
show you it's a whopper of a storm. to the south, there's rain, there have been tornados reported. then you he that icy mix in pink. i and then the light blue, that's the snow. and you can see it's just getting wound up. as far as this track of the storm, it starts to push through late tonight, and a secondary storm is going to form off the east coast. that's going to bring more frozen precip and more snow to northern new york and new england as well. snowfall accumulations here in boston -- this could break the record set back in 1967. this may end up with 26 inches of snow. springfield, illinois more of the same. albany 12 to 18 inches. syracuse may see 16 to 18 inches of snow. add to that, we may see an inch of ice in a swath stretching from the midwest all the way into northern new england. brian, this thing is a monster. >> al, we lost your satellite for just a second, i feared we were going to lose you. let's get some goggles instead of eyeglasses. and good luck riding this one
out tonight. we'll see you tomorrow in chicago, al, part of our team. back here in this region, we'll take a break tonight as the streets are still alive this evening. we can hear their voices, but today earlier we saw some of their faces. and talked with them about their lives and what brings out this protest.
back here in cairo, all the of us today spent a good bit of time at ground level, walking with, meeting, talking to the egyptians who have come out as citizen month testers. a lot of them young and old. a lot of them brought family members with them, some of them brought children with them. lester holt as part of our team here, did the very same thing today. we've been seeing their faces, hearing their voices from a bit of a distance. as they go by en masse, you got
to speak to several of them today and talk about their motivation. >> it's the people really who seem to be charting this course to move mubarak to the exit. it's the people really who seem to be churning this course. a new sense of empowerment in the streets of cairo tonight, egyptians speaking as one against president mubarak are finding their voice. >> we are just like a big family, and we all want one thing. we all agree upon this thing, that he has to leave. >> reporter: this new political awakening has stunned people like 23-year-old interior designer, marion elquesni who this morning marched to tahrir square, never imagined she or her country could stand up like this. >> this is the best thing to ever happen. it brought everyone together in a very unplanned, unscripted
way. >> reporter: like marion, khatib abu ali is part of the generation that's only known one president and now yearns to taste democracy. and, thus, can't quite imagine what change will look like. >> we have a problem now. we're trying to overcome the problem. all these people are ready for it. >> reporter: this crowd is realizing that what they're experiencing now is, in fact, a taste of freedom, a thing they crave. it's what happens next that daunts many of them. one man told me, in my entire lifetime, i've never been allowed to think for myself, and maybe finally i will. egypt's young in particular, have suffered high unemployment under the mubarak government. mohammed had to skip today's rally to try to sell enough sandwiches on the street to eke out a living. i want to get married, but how can i? i earn $100 a month, he tells me. life is very difficult. tonight, the protesters feel closer than ever to achieving political change. and what they hope will be better lives for all egyptians. even though many of them have never witnessed change for
themselves. hard to see sometimes in that sea of humanity, when you look at the people in the square, but in the middle of it is a grassy area with tentses. people who have camped there from the beginning and they've vowed not to leave until mubarak leaves. >> they're going to live there until someone else is living in the presidential palace. lester, thanks.
back here in cairo, you may have heard reports about what's happening with oil prices, they're up, all those of us in the united states know what that means. we also know it's starting here. and cnbc's erin burnett is part of our team here. how does this all happen? >> the suez canal is a crucial artery, it's from east to west. all that middle eastern oil has to go somewhere. it goes through the suez canal. you're talking about tankers that carry a million barrels a piece going through this canal. and concerns about delays have driven oil prices higher, brian. it's interesting though, brian, that traders tell me if we were to see a full halt at the suez canal, you could see oil prices go as high as $120 a barrel. right now we're close to 90. that gives you a sense of how important these far corners of the world are. the suez canal matters a lot. >> it says nothing about the other jitters throughout this region and other countries as well. when we come back, what it's like to a veteran of these streets to walk among the protesters here.
for part of that time i was with our chief foreign correspondent richard engel, who lived and worked here for many years, to try to see what he sees here going on. this is part of the economy that has popped up to service the protest. >> well, this is just new today, where people are, you can tell it's starting -- there's an air of permanence to this. people are serving tea, sodas. this is just -- this is all new. before, the protests were much more violent. there was tear gas in here you couldn't stay, let alone serve tea. >> let's go to the i.d. check. what does that banner say hanging down from the highway overpass. >> it says down, down, hosni mubarak. that's been a constant chant here. >> can you talk us through here?
>> they want to make sure that people don't have weapons. and this -- when people get empowered they -- everyone takes charge. >> we've gone from an unorganized protest to a hyperorganized protest. >> a hyperorganized protest. >> and everyone is appointing themselves as a volunteer? >> everyone's a leader, everyone's in charge. >> we're entering the final funnel. this is one way in? >> this is the primary way in. this is the egyptian museum, you can see there are armed guards on the roof. >> this is where most of the great antiquities are housed? >> this is one of the best museums in the world. >> there's no mechanism to address all the people, correct? there's no loud speakers? >> there are different little loud speakers, but there's no central p.a. system. >> they're making a sign on their way in. everyone is expressing something. part of the hours we spent
walking around this city, and hours later, late at night below us here, they're still going. that's going to do it for our broadcast this tuesday night. i'm brian williams reporting again tonight from cairo. on behalf of our entire team, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now at 6:00, mourners beginning to gather for a vigil marking the end of a two-week-long search for a missing california boy. the harsh words from a mother overcome by grief. good evening and thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. the search for a little boy is over and it comes with a heavy